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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Reiki Roundup: What the devil?

Here we go again: Nearly two years ago, a a controversial Catholic priest pronounced Reiki "the work of the devil" even though many other Catholics, including nuns, practice Reiki themselves. Now another controversial Catholic priest has made headlines from England to India with his charge that Reiki, yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy and horoscopes "can lead to possession by the devil." The priest, Father Jeremy Davies, exorcist for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor in the United Kingdom, apparently has not read the latest edition of the Western Catholic Reporter (which calls itself "Canada's Largest Religious Weekly"), featuring an article about the 50th anniversary of the Queen's House of Retreats in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where Reiki is one of the resources offered. Our guess is that Father Davies may not be familiar with the therapies he criticizes. Why not just claim that anything could lead to possession by the devil (if you believe in that concept), without specifying individual practices? For some in his profession, being a priest has led to some devilish behavior, for which the head of his organization has apologized profoundly, so why pick on Reiki or yoga or acupuncture? Our guess is that it has something to do with promoting his new book: after all, outrageous controversy = free publicity. Unfortunately, such ludicrous claims have consequences: at least one Catholic hospice in the New York City area no longer allows Reiki for the dying and their families. One volunteer there was told that she could keep on practicing, but under another name: "Just call it Therapeutic Touch," a staff member advised. Actually, that's a different modality, so it wouldn't be honest to apply the name to Reiki.

Meanwhile, in Bangor, Maine, USA, Reiki has recently been added to the therapies available at Eastern Maine Medical Center. WCSH-TV in Portland has a great video report in which patients talk about how Reiki has helped them.

And in Beverly, Massachusetts, residents of the Essex Park Rehabilitation Center talked to The Salem News about how they've benefited from a Reiki pilot program there. The center is gathering data to apply for funding so that Reiki can be offered there every day instead of just once a month.

Finally, in Strasburg, Virginia, USA, Reiki is among the therapies mentioned for sleep disorders in an article in The Northern Virginia Daily.

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